Oak Apple Day or Royal Oak Day was a formal public holiday celebrated in England on 29 May to commemorate the restoration of the English monarchy, in May 1660. In some parts of the country the day is still celebrated and has also been known as Shick Shack Day, Oak and Nettle Day, or Arbor Tree Day.
Traditional celebrations to commemorate the event often entailed the wearing of oak apples (a type of plant gall, possibly known in some parts of the country as a “shick-shack”) or sprigs of oak leaves, in reference to the occasion after the Battle of Worcester in September 1651, when Charles II escaped the Roundhead army by hiding in an oak tree near Boscobel House. Anyone who failed to wear a sprig of oak risked being pelted with bird’s eggs or thrashed with nettles. In Sussex, those not wearing oak were liable to be pinched, giving rise to the unofficial name of “Pinch-bum Day”; similarly it was known as “Bumping Day” in Essex. In Upton Grey, after the church bells had been rung at 6 a.m. the bell-ringers used to place a large branch of oak over the church porch, and another over the lych gate. Smaller branches were positioned in the gateway of every house to ensure good luck for the rest of the year.
These ceremonies, which have now largely died out, are perhaps continuations of pre-Christian nature worship.
Well, most of the Oak Apple ceremonies may have died out, but honoring history, traditions, royal oak trees and both its and our roots seems worthwhile to me, so on the 29th I’ll wear the silver oak-leaf broche my great-grandfather made 🙂